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The name gives it away. Blasteroids must have something to do with Asteroids, and you'd hope that it was an official sequel rather than a knock off cashing in on the legacy - and it is a legacy by now, for eight years had passed since the release of Asteroids.
Blasteroids is developed by Atari Games so this is a sequel and we're going to find out just what happened in that near decade between titles. The image gives away the change in graphics, but what about the gameplay?
A complete graphical overhaul is the first thing you notice, as expected. Gone are the vector graphic outlines of a triangle and some angular blobs, replaced with detailed ships and tumbling rocky asteroids, all over an equally flashy background. You could stop there and have a perfectly playable game, but Blasteroids goes much further.
For starters, you've got to keep an eye on an energy meter, which ticks down the more you thrust around the screen. It therefore pays to play it slow and steady, rotating on the spot and shooting in every direction you can aim in before having to move in order to dodge an incoming threat or get a better position to shoot them down,
It wouldn't be a fun game without the ability to refill that meter though, so hidden away in asteroids are fuel canisters and the like, prompting you to blast everything in sight in the hopes of getting something more useful than points from its destruction.
Energy is also used to power the shields, allowing you to take a few hits and still be in the game, but you can't really rely on such tactics in the long term. You're going to have to get good, and Blasteroids gives you yet more options to help out.
You can change your ship into one of three different types, Speeder, Fighter and Warrior, having better speed, firepower and armour attributes respectively. If one suits your play style, stick with it. If another one suits the situation that you face, you might want to switch things up. If you're playing with a co-op partner, you can even buddy up and dock ships.
If none of that was interesting enough, you've got a good few power-ups to find and play with too, mostly increasing this or that; firepower, armour, movement, fuel capacity and so on. You can play with them in four different difficulty modes over anywhere from 9 to 16 sectors of asteroid and alien filled space, ending with a boss fight against Mukor, a big green, tentacle swinging floating head thing.
On paper, that seems like a damn good deal. You get an awful lot of new additions to the Asteroids formula, and you know that was a good game. Yet I get the impression that it is too much, and at the same time not enough. I'm still trying to work out how that's possible.
It's important to note that I haven't played Blasteroids - with the exception of an unofficial Flash version, which is just not the same - but watching it now I'm not entirely convinced of it all, and can't put my finger on why.
I don't want to commit to a definite answer until I've played Blasteroids. I can see the appeal, that's easy. I can see how different ships and power-ups mix up the gameplay and allow players to tailor their game a little, and you can't argue that it doesn't look nice. But it's not Asteroids, is it? It is, but it isn't.
Am I holding Asteroids up too high? Blasteroids should be its own game, whether a sequel or not. It's hard to judge things in little bubbles (and another argument as to whether we should), and it's hard for me to say anything one way or another.
It should be played, that much is easy to say - partly because I'm still yet to play it to say otherwise. I just hope that when I do, I don't get a sense of 'I wish I was playing Asteroids instead'.
The background images are digitised and recoloured images of actual objects in space, rather than fully custom artwork.
Blasteroids, developed by Atari Games, first released in 1987.
Version watched: Arcade, 1987 (edusword)